Construction is one of the most important steel-using industries, accounting for more than 50% of world steel demand.
Buildings – from houses to car-parks to schools and skyscrapers – rely on steel for their strength. Steel is also used on roofs and as cladding for exterior walls.
The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to a new United Nations report launched in 2019.
This will be accompanied by rapid urbanisation. As the need for buildings and infrastructure continues to grow worldwide, reducing consumption of natural resources and associated emissions is crucial for future sustainability.
Whilst the operation of buildings accounts for 28% of global CO2 emissions (cf. footnote below), they also present many opportunities for reducing emissions and mitigating climate change.
Steelmakers around the world are increasingly providing construction solutions that enable energy-efficient and low-carbon-neutral buildings. For example in the HAMK Sheet Metal Centre (Finland) – a near Zero Energy Building (nZEB), steel solutions brought down the cost of electricity and district heating to €5,200 per annum from €12,400 (reference building).
Not only is steel affordable, readily available and safer, its intrinsic properties, such as strength, versatility, durability and 100% recyclability allow for improved environmental performance across the entire life cycle of buildings.
The advanced high-strength steels used in steel-plate applications also find uses in a number of related industries. Offshore oil rigs, bridges, civil engineering and construction machines, rail carriages, tanks and pressure vessels, nuclear, thermal and hydroelectric plants – all these applications benefit from the attributes of modern steels.
How steel is used in buildings and infrastructure
The possibilities for using steel in buildings and infrastructure are limitless. The most common applications are listed below.